Cross Stitch Vs. Embroidery: Which is Best for Beginners?

These ancient fiber arts have a lot in common but are not similar. Explore our guide on cross stitch vs. embroidery, and you will be able to tell them apart.

People who enjoy crafty projects always have a creative mind. If you are a beginner, then choosing a stitching project can be a daunting experience for you.

Both cross stitch and embroidery are common techniques. Hand embroidery is estimated to be 150 years old. The name embroidery generally encompasses a wide range of stitched designs such as appliqué and smocking. 

Today’s most popular form of embroidery is counted cross stitch, which was popular around the 1890s when it was used as an art form.

When it comes to cross stitch vs. embroidery, there is a lot of confusion regarding what to choose. Cross stitch is a little harder since it involves hand stitching, while embroidery is an umbrella term used for various designs and patterns of stitches done by hand or machine.

In this post, we will help you understand some key differences between cross stitch vs. embroidery.

Let’s begin. 

Cross Stitch Vs. Embroidery: Definitions

Before we jump to explore the key differences between cross stitch vs. embroidery, it’s important to understand what they are and their history.

Let’s find out. 

What is a Cross-stitch?

Cross stitch is the most popular embroidery technique. It is a counted form of textile embroidery which is worked with a needle and thread or yarn on a pattern of stitches. Cross stitch has existed for many centuries, but its current popularity dates from the mid-1800s.

Cross stitching

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Cross stitch designs are made up of a series of X-shaped stitches called “crosses.” The word “cross” comes from the shape formed by these stitches. 

Most cross-stitch patterns have a small number of colors, often just two or three. Sometimes, one color is used throughout a design, while other free embroidery designs may contain two or more colors in varying shades and tones.

The colors in cross-stitch designs are chosen so that they blend together well. For example, if you were doing an animal design using blue and red threads, you wouldn’t want to use dark blue and light red threads. They wouldn’t blend together well when viewed in a close manner.

This could work out fine when viewed from afar (such as when displayed on a wall). Many people won’t be able to tell that two different colors are being used in your design if it’s far away enough from them.

These types of embroidery patterns are best suited for smaller projects like pillows, coasters, bags, and hats. They require less fabric than other types of embroidery. 

What is Embroidery?

Embroidery has been around for centuries and was used for decoration, clothing embellishment, and personal adornment. It is still used today for dressmaking, fashion design, and home decorating.

Cross stitching vs embroidery

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The word embroidery comes from the French word meaning “embroider” or “stitch.”

Embroidery techniques include crewel work, cutwork, and needlepoint, all types of surface embroidery techniques. 

Surface embroidery uses materials such as silk thread or wool yarn to create designs on cloth by hand stitching them onto the embroidery fabric using a needle and thread.

In between embroidery vs. counted cross stitch, counted cross stitch uses one color per square of fabric and requires no fabric backing.

Embroidery can be done on larger pieces of fabric like tablecloths or curtains. It requires more material than cross stitch but not quite as much as embroidery sewing machine-made embroidery does. 

Embroidery Vs. Cross Stitching: Key Differences

Now that we know what cross stitching and embroidery are, let’s find out the key differences between them. 

Key differences of cross stitching and embroidery

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The greatest difference between embroidery vs cross stitching is where they are used. While both cross stitch and embroidery can be used to create decorative projects, their purposes are different.

Embroidery can be used to create decorative fabrics for clothing, wall hangings, home decor items such as pillows and tablecloths, and even quilts. 

Embroidery patterns are more complicated than those made in cross stitches because they have more colors and require more steps than cross stitches. Many embroidery ideas can also include other materials, such as beads or buttons, in their designs.

Cross stitch is often used to create pictures or words that are sewn together onto a fabric. These pieces may be made with one or more colors depending on what type of design you want to make. For example, if it’s just text, you could use one color per letter; if it’s an image, you might need several. 


Cross stitch and embroidery are both forms of needlework. Another clear difference between cross stitching vs. embroidery is embroidery stitches.

Embroidery uses various stitches to create designs on fabric. These include satin stitch embroidery, chain stitch embroidery, running stitch, tent stitch, and many more.

Embroidery stitches guide

Image Source: Paraffle Embroidery

Cross stitch is a variation of counted thread embroidery that involves stitching X-shaped stitches over two threads of even weave fabric. Cross stitching can be done in full or partial stitches, with many variations. 

Cross stitch for beginners

Image Source: Sarah’s Hand Embroidery Tutorials


Another important difference between embroidery vs. cross stitching is the use of a number of embroidery threads vs. cross stitch thread to make a pattern.

Cross stitch is counted-thread work. It is worked on even weave fabrics like linen, Aida, etc., that all have grids printed on them.

Embroidery is done using an endless embroidery thread (such as wool). This allows you to create any design you want without having to count out individual stitches. You can also add beads or other embellishments to your piece if desired! 


The difference between the patterns used for counted cross stitch vs. embroidery is that cross stitch is a more traditional method of stitching, while embroidery can be done using transfer paper or chalk.

Cross stitch is a form of counted-thread stitching that involves making small X-shaped stitches over a grid pattern. It uses one color of thread for each row, which creates a pattern that looks like woven cloth when viewed from the back side of the workpiece. The resulting design can be used as an applique or independent piece of art.

Embroidery is also counted-thread stitching but involves making stitches in different sizes and shapes over various patterns. Embroidered designs can be used as an applique like embroidery flowers or as independent pieces of art. 


Cross stitch is a form of embroidery that uses one strand of thread to create a pattern. It’s done on a piece of fabric using a needle and thread. The finished product looks like it was stitched, but it is made by sewing from side to side through the fabric.

Embroidery vs cross stitch

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Embroidery uses multiple strands of thread to create a pattern. It’s done on paper or fabric with an embroidery hoop. The finished product looks like it was stitched, but it was created by sewing back and forth through the fabric in various directions. 

Embroidery vs cross stitching

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There are different types of cross stitch vs embroidery vs. needlepoint used to make patterns. Here are those:

There are two types of cross stitches: counted and non-counted. Counted cross stitch is the most common type. It follows a grid that tells you where to put your stitches. Non-counted cross stitch does not have a grid, so you have to figure out where to put your stitches on your own.

Non-counted cross stitch is also called freeform embroidery. There is no rule for how to do it. You can use any colors you want and make up any pattern you want.

Embroidery is used to decorate fabric in clothing, household items, and other accessories. There are two ways to do embroidery: hand embroidery and machine embroidery. 

In hand embroidery, the textile is stretched over a frame that will not distort its shape. The cloth is not stretched in machine embroidery (also called lockstitch). This allows for much larger scale designs than would be possible with handwork alone. Machine-stitched designs are more detailed. 

Cross stitch vs embroidery vs needlepoint

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Another tough debate between hand embroidery vs. cross stitch is about their popularity. Cross stitch and embroidery are both popular forms of needlework. It’s hard to say that one form is less popular than the other.

Cross stitch was started out as a way for people to make their own clothing and accessories in their homes. As technology advanced and people got more comfortable with sewing machines, they started making clothing at home instead of buying it from stores or tailors. 

Many people in America still use cross stitches as an art form, hobby, or a way to make money from stitching products like clothing or quilts.

Embroidery also has a long history behind it and has become more popular over time due to its versatility. You can create various artwork on fabrics using different stitches, such as chain stitching or satin stitches. 


Needlepoint vs cross stitch vs embroidery is a debate that has been raging for many years. Some people believe that cross stitch is an expensive option, while others say it’s embroidery.

Both cross stitch and embroidery can be used to create decorative projects. They can also be used for practical purposes such as clothing embellishment or repair. 

Embroidery floss vs cross stitch thread

Image Source: Medieval Silkwork

The most common materials used for both cross stitch and embroidery are cotton floss (or “thread”) and silk floss (or “thread”). The materials used for these projects are sold per skein in a range of colors.

The cost of each project will vary based on the type of embroidery floss vs cross stitch thread used and the number of colors used in making it. For example: if you want to make an afghan throw blanket that uses three different colors, then this will cost more than making one with two colors or none at all! 


Another notable difference is that cross stitching creates a more durable piece than embroidery because it will unravel or fray if done in the correct way. 

Do You Need Different Supplies for Cross Stitch Vs Hand Embroidery?

To create cross stitch vs hand embroidery, you will need different tools and embroidery supplies depending on the project you are working on.

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Blank customizable tags

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As small sewing enthusiasts and amateur fashion designers, we know that you want to add a professional touch to your homemade clothing item. That’s why we’re here. We help you do that by offering affordable, easy-to-design, and customizable labels. That way, you can get what you want in no time.

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Cross stitch and embroidery are both forms of needlework that involve creating a design on fabric with tiny stitches. There are some important differences between the cross stitch vs embroidery fabric used in each technique.

Cross stitch is done on even weave fabric, which has a grid of holes like an evenly spaced mesh. Embroidery is done on embroidery fabric or canvas with a single layer of fabric that is not perforated in any way. 

Embroidery fabric

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Cross stitch and hand embroidery are both forms of needlework. They are done using different types of embroidery needle vs cross stitch needle.

Cross stitch needles are used to make small holes in the fabric, and the floss is passed through them. The most common type of cross stitch needle is a tapestry needle. 

It has an eye that’s large enough to accommodate floss but small enough to pass through the holes you’ve made in your work. You can also use a sharp embroidery needle for cross stitching.

Hand embroidery needles come in all shapes and sizes. They’re long and thin, with an eye at one end and a sharp point at the other end for piercing fabric. Hand embroidery needles are used for stitching through multiple layers of fabric and creating decorative knots or loops on top of your work. 


When it comes to cross stitching and hand embroidery, you will need hoops to keep your fabric taut as you work.

Embroidery hoop

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Hooping your fabric is a great way to ensure that your stitches are consistent and even, but it’s not necessary for every project. If you’re working on something with very little detail, like a small area of color or a simple line drawing, you can get away without using hoops. 


Many different threads can be used for cross stitch and hand embroidery. The most common thread for these crafts is cotton, but wool, silk, and metallic threads are also popular. 

Cross stitch uses one or more strands of silk floss, while embroidery threads are made from wool, cotton, and synthetic fibers such as nylon and polyester. 

Major Difference Between Embroidery Vs Cross Stitch Vs Needlepoint

The biggest difference between embroidery, cross-stitch, and needlepoint is their type of stitch.

Embroidery uses a satin stitch, made up of long stitches that run parallel. It’s great for creating bold lines or filling in large areas.

Cross-stitch uses shorter stitches and spaces them out in an even manner. This makes it ideal for smaller details because it makes them look more realistic than an embroidery pattern.

Needlepoint is a form of canvas work that uses wool yarns and can be stitched in various styles. It’s often used for making pictures or patterns on quilts, wall hangings, blankets, and other household items. 

Bouquet of roses embroidery

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Comparison Charts Between Needlepoint Vs Cross Stitch Vs Embroidery

Here’s an overview of key differences between needlepoint vs cross stitch vs embroidery: 

Cross Stitch Vs. Needlepoint

Let’s find out the major differences between cross stitch vs needlepoint:

Cross stitch vs needlepoint

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Cross Stitch



Aida or even weave

Open weave canvas


Six strand embroidery floss

Tapestry yarn, embroidery floss





Cross stitch, functional stitches

Bargello, tent, etc.

Stitch coverage

Just design

Entire canvas


Design chart

Design chart

Needlepoint Vs Embroidery

The following comparison chart between needlepoint vs embroidery will help clarify your doubts.




Design Creation

Designs are created with tapestry wool. It is then stitched on a mesh canvas.

Uses floss to form an abstract or a design

Ready-made designing

The canvas used can be already printed or painted with the right design or just left as blank.

Includes ready-made printed design and stitching over the lines, which fills the spaces

Fabric used

Open weave canvas

Satin, silk, cotton, velvet, and Aida


The concept used is stitching over the design area and covering it with yarn or thread.

Involved stitching over the lines and filing the shapes

Mode of stitching

It is stitched by hand

It can be done by hand or by machinery

FAQs Related to Embroidery Vs Cross Stitch

If you are still confused between embroidery vs cross stitch, then you must read these FAQs

Why Is Embroidery More Expensive Than Cross Stitch?

Embroidery is more expensive than cross stitch because it’s a more complex process. It requires more time and attention to detail. The materials involved are also more expensive. 

Can I Do Cross Stitch on Anything?

The short answer is yes. You can do cross-stitch on anything. If you’re using a pattern designed for embroidery or canvas work, you should be able to do it on anything. 

Cross stitch vs hand embroidery

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If your pattern was designed for fabric, then you’ll need to use fabric as well—but that’s not an issue. You can get some thick fabrics that are great for cross-stitching! Make sure they’re washable, so you don’t end up with stains or discoloration over time. 

What Are Some Good Tips For Making Sure Your Embroidery Looks Its Best?

The first thing is to make sure that your threads are high quality and match your project well. If they don’t match the color scheme of what you’re working with, it will be notified when it is time for someone else. 

Which Should You Use Between Cross Stitch Vs Needlepoint Vs Embroidery for a Beginner?

If you’re new to the cross stitch vs needlepoint vs embroidery world and want to learn how to do them, you’ll want to know which is better for a beginner.

Both cross-stitching and embroidery involve sewing threads into fabric. The main difference is that cross-stitching uses one color thread, whereas embroidery uses more than one color thread.

Cross-stitch is easy for beginners because it’s possible to make a mistake in the pattern without having it show on the final product. Embroidery can be trickier because mistakes mean you must undo your work and start over again.

Easy heart cross stitch

Image Source: The Spruce Crafts

It might also be helpful to consider whether you plan on using your finished project as an item of clothing or for other practical use. If so, cross-stitch would be a better option because it’s less likely to fade with time than embroidery. 

Cross-stitch Vs. Embroidery — Which is Easier?

The truth is, neither of them is “easier” than the other. It all comes down to what you’re looking for in your stitching experience.

Cross-stitchers are looking for a project that will take them months or even years to complete. That way, they can spend time with their hobby every day and really immerse themselves in it. 

Embroiderers often look for something more portable and quick—something they can finish in one sitting! 

Embroidery for beginners tips

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When you’re trying to decide which type of embroidery to learn, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. There are so many debates between cross stitch vs embroidery Reddit, and they all have their own quirks and challenges.

If you’re just starting out, then the above information will help you choose the right one. Cross Stitch is best for beginners because it’s easier to control than other forms of embroidery. Hand Embroidery requires more patience and precision.

There are plenty of projects you can do with cross stitch and embroidery! With cross stitches, you can make wall hangings, table runners, pillow covers, and even quilts.

With embroidery, you can make accessories like tote bags, pillows, and clothing like dresses, pants, and skirts.

If you are just starting out, don’t forget to read our article on the best embroidery machine for beginners to choose the right one.

Don’t delay much. Explore a new hobby today!